Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Product Review Craft Siberian Lobster Gloves

I have taken a sabbatical from my life-long search for the perfect pinecone and have recently been focused on trying to find the perfect pair of cold weather gloves.  I haven’t found them yet and while I haven’t given up I thought I would share the expanding wisdom that is now taking up space in my oft helmet covered noggin.

The problem with sports equipment is that the bar continues to rise and now and again you come across a piece of gear that creates a new benchmark.  The Gabba jersey from Castelli and the Nano-Air jackets from Patagonia are examples of game-changing breakthroughs.   Their performance results in “Yeah, Go buy THIS!’ comments from everyone who owns one.

Finding gloves that provide breathability, water protection, warmth and dexterity across a range of conditions is proving impossible.  I realize it is a tough order to fill but I am hopeful.  I have accumulated a shoebox full of gloves that do a good job on one or more of those attributes.  I have yet to find a pair that gets the nod as an absolute “must have.”

With my highly predictable and perhaps pointless preamble out of the way; these Craft gloves do a fine job.  They keep you warm and have reasonable breathability when temperatures are not too far above or below freezing.  The split finger design is nice and the separate slots for each of your fingers (which seems to contradict the external grouping) is nice.  They are warm and as long as they remain dry they go one and off easily.
 Mr. Spock's glove of choice....
These are the gloves I should have taken when my son and I went Nordic skiing at -12F.  My lapse in judgment has resulted in my left index finger wanting to join the forces of cold every chance it gets.  When my extremities are even contemplating getting cold my finger behaves as if to say, “Let it start with me.” Hence I have at least a near term plan to “over-glove.”
It took a few rides for me to get used to shifting my road bike with the split finger design.  What I didn’t have to get used to was the nice warm hands I had while riding.  I haven’t used these in the rain so I can’t comment on their water repellency.  There are bits of reflective trim so these have been welcomed on some pre-dawn commutes.
They fit true to size and I could slip in a thin liner glove if I needed to.  They pass my acid test of drying quickly enough.  Like most winter gloves they can get too hot and with breathability that is neither exceptionally good or bad they get wet.  Then they are harder to get on and off and their insulation properties are compromised as well.

These are solid performers in the right conditions.  Four of Five Evos.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Coffee and Lies #161 I’m just a girl who can’t say no.

If you don’t recognize the phrase, that’s not my problem.

An attribute that comes with age is the ability to rationalize and compromise your way out of anything unpleasant.  We can see this in others but we skillfully overlook it in ourselves.  We do such a good job we don’t even realize we are doing it. 

When we do find ourselves on the doctor’s scale or looking at the eye chart or crossing the finish line and the news is bad - we fight to marginalize the information.  If we cannot deny the truth only then are we forced to deal with it.

Such is my reality in this data rich environment.  I’m getting older and I’m getting slower.  It takes longer to recover and my ability to “tough it out” has diminished.  The good news is I can get the fitness I need but it will require a significant effort.  It requires consistency and structure.

This past weekend I had two rides that were both different and the same.  Saturday morning El Chefe’ and I had a 74k slog of a ride.   I could say we started before sunrise but in fact, the sun never came out on Saturday so in my opinion sunrise never actually happened. It rained hard and then it rained harder. 
Someone actually stopped and rolled down their window and told us we were either crazy or studs.  I don’t know that those two things are mutually exclusive.  Nevertheless it was a tough day in the saddle.

After we finished I drove home sitting on a towel shivering.  My bun warmer has long since died. My fingers and toes were pruned and my eyes were red and sore from being pelted by rain for three hours. It was a feeling I had as a kid when I would swim in our chlorine treated pool with my eyes open. Rode hard and put away wet has new meaning.  Some base miles are just baser than others. 

When I got home I washed me, my clothes and the bike in that order.  

On Sunday morning McWoodie asked who wanted to go longer.  Part of my strategy to overcome my remarkable powers of compromise is that I have promised myself I will say yes to every cycling addition.  If there is a question of adding a hill (say Cougar Mountain or Pizza hill) or going farther (say “around the lake”) then my answer between now and the Dolomites is an automatic “yes.”

On Sunday the roads were still very wet but the sky was dry so it was a thousand times better than Saturday.  The proliferation of moss and slime on the wet roads dictated some caution on curves so that kept it from being a total throw down. Even so, I did push it now and again and again and again.  They were mostly short exertions but still efforts that took me out of my comfort zone.

When we turned and climbed up Cougar I locked in and found my desired balance between hurt and speed and climbed very well considering it is January.  Later, I took some longer turns at the front to increase my workload for the day. Not epic but not the easy way out to be sure.

As we were nearing the end of the ride and climbing to the top of Capital Hill my legs gave me the Garmin-esque “Battery Low” warning.  For those who don’t know when your Garmin gives you a “Battery Low” warning what it is really saying is, “I’m shutting off in five minutes……It’s too late to do anything.”  Such was the state of my legs.  “Davo, you’ve only got a few more minutes of climbing before the profanity from your legs escalates.”  My ride would be over in five minutes so I almost smiled.

El Chefe’ and Richman had also opted to join McWoddie for the supersize Coffee and Lies and although McWoodie feels no pain, the rest of us were whimpering.   Another three had done Cougar with us but had rushed back on different routes.  We claimed the Full Monty for the day.

Like the guy who rolls into a gas station on fumes I took a morbid satisfaction in having come so close to my early season limit with just over a hundred miles and two thousand meters of climbing over the two day weekend.  When I stepped off my bike my legs knew they had done something.
Don't drink and cowbell.

I’m just a girl who can’t say no.  There, I said it.  I’m committed.

More of the story is here !

Friday, January 22, 2016

Coffee and Lies #160 Faith

When I was much younger and better suited to physical labor I contoured a part of my yard using a shovel and wheelbarrow.   During that exercise I unearthed a big rock that no mortal man could move.  My children were small and as far as this rock was concerned, they were useless.

After donning eye protection, a hat and long sleeves and long pants to prevent injury I began hitting the rock with the blunt end of a splitting maul.  The sound was somewhere between a bang and a ringing.   The rock didn’t move or show any signs of weakness.  At the point of impact coin-sized chips were shooting out with dangerous velocity like arrows looking for flesh to cut.

I was swinging like John Henry and sweating like my dad.  To look at the rock I wasn’t making any progress.  My frustration at my lack of success combined with the absence of another idea resulted in me continuing to swing the sledge which made the rock ring out.  Bang, bang, bang, bang.
On the next swing the rock split into three pieces.  I was surprised.  It was exactly what I had hoped would happen, yet after five minutes of whacking it was by now unexpected.  I was able to use a lever and wrestle the pieces out of the hole, one at a time. Finally I was exhausted and I sat down with my legs dangling in the hole.

My take away was that it wasn’t the hundredth swing that broke the rock but the ninety nine that had preceded it that made the very real but unseen progress.

My goal is that this coming June I am in the best climbing shape a middle aged Davo can be in.  For now I will get on my bike and ride in the rain.  Wash, rinse and repeat.  During these dark days I will be dreaming of sunny alpine switchbacks while cold water sloshes around in my shoes.

Bang, bang, bang, bang.